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The Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W.1

The Queen's Theatre during the run of the World's Longest Running Musical 'Les Miserables' in April 2014. The show originally opened at the Palace Theatre in October 1985 but transferred to the Queen's on the 3rd of April 2004 - Photo M. L.

Above - The Queen's Theatre during the run of the World's Longest Running Musical 'Les Miserables' in April 2014. The show originally opened at the Palace Theatre in October 1985 but transferred to the Queen's on the 3rd of April 2004.

 

 

See a Seating Plan for this Theatre with non commercial and independent opinions on the best seats to book - From Seatplan.co.ukSee London's West End TheatresSee Theatreland MapsThe Queen's Theatre opened on the 8th of October 1907 with a comedy called 'The Sugar Bowl' by Madeleine Lucette Ryley. The Theatre was designed by W. G. R. Sprague and was one of two Theatres designed by him next to each other on Shaftesbury Avenue. The first was the Hicks Theatre (later the Globe and now the Gielgud) which opened in 1906 and then later the Queen's Theatre which opened in 1907. Both Theatres were built by Walter Wallis of Balham with frontages of Portland Stone on a site which was formerly an estate agent's premises, comprising of 35 to 49 Shaftesbury Avenue, and seventeen houses in Wardour Street, Rupert Street, and Upper Rupert Street, which is now called Winnet street.

 

The Queen's Theatre auditorium was built on the cantilever system and comprised of three levels, Stalls, Dress Circle, Upper Circle, and Gallery at the rear of the Upper, with a capacity of 1,917 but today the capacity is a more modest 989.

An early Seating Plan for the Queen's Theatre, possibly 1920s

Above - An early Seating Plan for the Queen's Theatre, possibly 1920s

 

Programme for just one of the Queen's Theatre's successful productions over the years; the comedy 'The Wind And The Rain' by Merton Hodge, with Celia Johnson and Robert Harriswith in 1935.Two days after the Queen's opened The Stage newspaper published a review of the building in their 10th of October 1907 edition saying:- 'A two-tier house, the Queen's holds about 1200 persons, representing some £300 in money. The colour scheme of the walls and roof is white and gold, while green is the hue of the carpets, hangings and upholstery, and of the very charming velvet tableau curtain.

From a spacious and lofty entrance-hall, with passages leading down into the stalls, one ascends by a handsome marble staircase to the dress circle, which runs out over the pit; and there is a fine and roomy saloon at the top. Mr Vedrenne makes a point that 7/6 will be charged for seats in the first three rows only of the dress circle, while but 5/- will be the price of the remaining eight rows, also unreserved, in which evening dress will be optional.

On the second tier of the Queen's, which is in the Old Italian Renaissance style and in the building of which the cantilever principle has been adopted, are the upper circle and the shilling gallery. The auditorium is lighted up agreeably with electric lamps and an electrolier, and ample refreshment room and other accommodation will be found to have been provided.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Stage, 10th October 1907.

Right - A programme for just one of the Queen's Theatre's successful productions over the years; the comedy 'The Wind And The Rain' by Merton Hodge, with Celia Johnson and Robert Harriswith in 1935.

 

A photograph showing the original facade of the Queen's Theatre circa 1937 - From a 2003 Delfont Macintosh Press Handout.The Queen's Theatre was originally a twin with the Hicks, although slightly larger, but it was bombed during the Second World War on the 24th of September 1940, and suffered considerable damage to its front of house areas, the backs of the circles, and especially to its Facade which was completely destroyed.

Left - A photograph showing the original facade of the Queen's Theatre circa 1937 - From a 2003 Delfont Macintosh Press Handout.

A Programme for 'Dear Octopus' which opened at the Queens Theatre on September the 14th 1938 - Kindly Donated by Clive Crayfourd.Right - A Programme for 'Dear Octopus' which opened at the Queens Theatre on September the 14th 1938 - Kindly Donated by Clive Crayfourd.

The Theatre remained closed for nearly 20 years before being rebuilt by Westwood, Sons and Partner, on more modern lines. The Theatre finally reopened on July the 8th 1959 with a production of John Gielgud's Shakespearean Recital 'Ages of Man'.

The Stage reported on the proposals to rebuild and reopen the Queen's Theatre in their April 11th, 1957 edition saying:- 'Contemporary design with an all-glass frontage is planned by the architect Bryan Westwood for the rebuilding of the Queen's, Shaftesbury Avenue, which will be London's first post-war theatre construction. It will cost £200,000, some of which will come under War Damage Commission. Work is to begin soon after Easter. From outside the new building it will be possible to see into the foyer and the saloon bar of the dress circle on the first floor, but it is planned to keep the 1,000 seater auditorium in its original red and gold Edwardian style of decor. It is expected that the theatre will be ready for re-opening in about 18 months' time. Responsible for making the decision to re-open, when so many theatres are closing down all over the country are the Globe and Queen's Theatres Ltd., of which A. H. Montgomery, also a director of H. M. Tennent, is chairman. Bomb-damaged in 1940, during the run of "Rebecca," and London's first war casualty theatre, the Queen's has been closed for 17 years. It was opened in 1907 with "The Sugar Bowl".'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Stage, 11th April 1957.

 

How the new Sondheim Theatre and restored Queen's Theatre would have looked - From a 2003 Delfont Macintosh Press Handout.

Above - An ambitious plan by Delfont Macintosh Theatres in 2003 to restore the original facade of the Queen's Theatre and incorporate a new 500 seat Studio Theatre, to be called the Sondheim Theatre, on the roof of the Queen's, sadly never came to fruition. This image shows how the new Sondheim Theatre and restored Queen's Theatre would have looked - From a 2003 Delfont Macintosh Press Handout.

 

Shaftesbury Avenue in June 1977 showing the Lyric, Apollo, Globe, and Queen's Theatres - Photo M.L. 1977.The Queen's Theatre is currently home to the World's longest running musical, 'Les Miserables' which originally opened at the Palace Theatre in October 1985 but transferred to the Queen's on the 3rd of April 2004.

Right - Shaftesbury Avenue in June 1977 showing the Lyric, Apollo, Globe, and Queen's Theatres
Photo M.L. 1977.

The Queen's Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue should not be confused with the earlier 1867 Queen's Theatre on Long Acre which closed in 1887 and was subsequently demolished.

The Queen's Theatre is currently owned and run by Delfont Macintosh Theatres.You may like to visit the Theatre's own website here.

 

Shaftesbury Avenue showing four of London's West End Theatres in a row, the Lyric Theatre, the Apollo Theatre, the Gielgud Theatre, and the Queen's Theatre in October 2006 - Photo M.L.

Above - Shaftesbury Avenue showing four of London's West End Theatres in a row, the Lyric Theatre, the Apollo Theatre, the Gielgud Theatre, and the Queen's Theatre in October 2006 - Photo M.L.

 

London's West End Theatres

Adelphi Aldwych Ambassadors Apollo Apollo Victoria Arts Cambridge Criterion Dominion Drury Lane Duchess Duke Of Yorks Fortune Garrick Gielgud Harold Pinter Haymarket Her Majesty's London Coliseum London Palladium Lyceum Lyric New London Noel Coward / Albery Novello Old Vic Palace Peacock Phoenix Piccadilly Playhouse Prince Edward Prince of Wales Queen's Royal Opera House Savoy Shaftesbury St. Martin's Trafalgar Studios / Whitehall Vaudeville Victoria Palace Wyndham's